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Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas announcing the new SafePass rules, Source: PIO

Cyprus tightens Covid rules

Cyprus tightens Covid rules

A SafePass will be required at all outdoor and indoor locations where more than 20 people gather

Faced with a spike in new Covid-19 cases which exceeded the mark of 1000 for three consecutive days and hospitalizations surpassing 180, the Cypriot government has decided to tighten the anti-pandemic rules from 20 July. The scope of the SafePass requirement, which already applies to visiting most hospitality venues, as well as for going to work and church, is further extended.

Rules at a glance

The new rules, according to the government press and information office (PIO) include:

    • Suspension of children’s camps operation by 23 July.
    • Customers in restaurants, nightclubs, discos and other hospitality venues must be seated at all times with a maximum of 10 people allowed per table. Dancing is prohibited except for establishments hosting individuals who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 6 months.
    • Introduction of SafePass in all indoor and outdoor areas where more than 20 people congregate at any time, including staff members. The measure will be valid until 31 July.
    • SafePass requirement for using the services of public, private and local government institutions, including banks, public transport, passenger boats, etc.
    • Only SafePass holders may visit nursing homes and other accommodation and care facilities for the elderly. Residents are advised not to leave the facility and if they do, they must present a negative rapid test result on their return.
    • Venues hosting only fully vaccinated or reconvalescent people will be allowed to increase admittance from 250 to 450 indoors and from 350 to 500 outdoors.

    Incentives for vaccinations

    The harshness of the new measures is balanced by incentives meant to encourage the young population, which accounts for the majority of new infections, to get the jab. 

    Hours before Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas announced the stricter SafePass rules on Friday, President Nicos Anastasiades urged all Cypriots in a televised address to get vaccinated. He said the government’s intention is not to create a division between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but to protect the lives of all people, the operability of the health system and the viability of businesses.

    He stressed that the right of the vaccinated majority to enjoy their freedoms should not be put in danger because of the few who are unwilling to get vaccinated, reminding that 70 percent of the population have got their first shot while over 60 percent are fully inoculated. 

    Large-scale protests 

    Notwithstanding the government appeals for vaccinations, thousands of people rallied peacefully on Sunday outside the presidential palace in Nicosia against the blanket introduction of the SafePass, Cyprus Mail reports. Some of the speakers made a point in the alleged suppression of treatments and medicines in favour of vaccines – especially early treatment at home, which they said would reduce hospitalisations.

    In an online statement, the demonstrators called for an immediate abolition of the SafePass, extension of free rapid tests beyond the 1 August end date, and termination of the twice-weekly tests for unvaccinated employees. Protesters also want the presidency to declare that vaccination will not be mandatory, and call for an end to the segregation of people into vaccinated and unvaccinated, as well as to “the intimidation, blackmail, and threats of dismissal against public and private sector workers because they refuse to get the jab”.

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